In the Ninth Edition of my “Week of Lists” I tackle the high level topic: Offline versus Online Parenting, exploring the collision of ideas parents face when seeking to participate and bridge gaps between themselves and other parents… while avoiding ruining their kids lives by oversharing or mild exploitation. I’ve been dad-blogging for ten years in various forms, so I’ve thought about many of the pros and cons, like…
3 vs 3 Cooking Metaphors that will Scare (or Inspire) You to Blog More
Part of me wishes I’d done something in my career with cooking or meal preparation. We would have cancelled our cable package by now if it wasn’t for the Food Network. One of my most used pieces of software is a recipe database (that I wrote.) And if anyone reads this blog with any consistency in the last couple years one will have definitely noticed a theme emerging around the idea of meal prep at home, and making better and healthier meals.
In other words, even though I’m not a chef I probably think way too much about cooking.
Though one can’t necessarily draw a clean, obvious connection between the notion of Daddy Blogging and cooking, there are some definite overlaps between the worlds of raising a kid or five, and that other thing… constructing family meals.
And if there isn’t, then there just could be a lot of wisdom to be found in one that can glean insight upon the other, wisdom that will either inspire one to cook more (or to blog more) or scare any cook (or blogger) into hanging up their tools. Such as….
Scare #1: Half-baked Ideas Are Often of Less Value Than No Ideas At All
I think among the worst things I have ever cooked (then accidentally attempted to consume) was a failed cheese and tomato omelette. The cheese clumped up. The tomato was overripe and sludged all over the pan. And my skillet wasn’t nearly hot enough so the outside of the omelette was overcooked and rubbery and the inside was still a bit raw. Fortunately I was only making myself lunch and not cooking for the family or visitors. Needless to say, I think it went into the trash and I made a grilled cheese sandwich instead.
The internet is full of runny cheese and tomato omelettes. These are posts filled with ideas that are full of inconsistencies, undercooked facts, and overripe ideas from which no one will get any added value. Sometimes this is rushed authoring. Sometimes it is laziness. Often it is due to lack of skill. I have a few of these runny omelette articles floating around on this very website, and I am a little sheepish to admit that they emerged out of the notion of either misunderstanding a topic, or pushing myself to reach an artificial deadline or word count.
Sadly, when I look at the stats, the good posts and the bad posts are virtually indistinguishable. As many people read the runny omelettes as read the ones that have been more expertly cooked. Do they add value to the web or this site? Probably not. And they probably decrease its reputation in the long run.
Inspire #1: Sampling the Food As You Cook Makes You a Better Chef
That said, my runny omelettes are often just me cooking lunch for myself. Or, if one is still pondering the metaphor aspect: those posts are frequently me just working stuff out in my own head. We can debate if doing this on a live site (hot pan) is smart, but doing real work, blogging real topics, writing against real issues, cooking real eggs over real fire and tasting, reading, rereading, and adjusting all along the way is going to ultimately lead to improving my ability to deliver better food (and posts.)
Scare #2: Emotions are Like Ingredients and Mixing them Wrong can Destroy a Dish
When I was in middle school I got saddled with taking Home Economics as my elective. Shop was full. Thirty years later I’m more comfortable around a cast iron skillet and a chef’s knife than a band saw. And thirty years later the funniest anecdote of my pre-teen cooking experience stands out as the time my cooking partner, another befuddled boy in my class, swapped the sugar and salt in some cookies we were making. A pinch of sugar and a cup of salt went into the batter. Not only were they not cookies, but they were not anything resembling edible, even for a twelve year old.
I’ve written a bunch on this blog about the current era of outrage culture. This post is probably guilty of a bit of clickbaiting. And the whole point of this series is to ponder the quantity of parental oversharing in modern social media. Those are just a few of the flourishes to a good, well-written, well-researched blog post. There are a lot of ingredients, and the salt and the sugar can easily get swapped if one doesn’t know their way around a keyboard.
Inspire #2: Great Dishes are Often Born of Fortunate Accidents
That said, take a moment to recall the history of fudge. As the lore would have it, fudge was a fortunate accident emerging from a failed batch of caramels.
I’m not really saying that casually tossing ingredients together is going to invent something as awesome as fudge, but just as not every recipe is a perfectly planned concoction, not everything a blogger writes is going to be what they set out to put into words… and that might turn out great.
Scare #3: There Can Be Too Many Cooks in a Kitchen
I used to write a lot more about a topic called “rational parenting.” It’s a bit abstract, but it really came down being exposed to a perfect storm of kookie, scientifically untested, potentially harmful advice that emerged when the whole “dad thing” suddenly became a prominent part of my identity, refuting notions from anti-vaccination to Baby Einstein product marketing.
I ultimately stopped writing on that topic, not because I stopped believing that it was important, but because there were a lot of much better chefs in that kitchen. Chefs with skills. Chefs with access to and ability with tools that I had never even heard of. Chefs who were cooking every single day, cooking well, and had access to many more hungry mouths than I.
I realized that despite my best intentions, my offerings were limited by my time and access to ingredients. I was cooking at the edge of a prep table on a hot plate, and my drivel was just cluttering up the gala buffet table. It wasn’t inedible or dangerous or flawed: it just could never hope to measure up. So I stepped out of that kitchen and focused on just cooking more at home.
Yes, both metaphorically and literally.
Inspire #3: If You Only Ever Eat Another Cook’s Food, You’ll Likely Never Truly Understand How Food Works
That said, I still stand by my belief that the only thing that will ever make anyone truly understand or appreciate something like — art, sport, music, science, travel, journalism, plumbing, or whatever, even something like — cooking or blogging, is to try it for themselves. Forever being a spectator or a watcher or a reader or just an audience never did anyone any good. Participation whether it be cooking a few eggs and cheese or filling pages with ideas is a key to something resembling enlightenment, I’m sure.
Blog on… or not. Chicken?